Democratic congressional leaders are demanding a full budget analysis of the latest Republican effort to repeal Obamacare, a move that threatens to stall the legislation ahead of a critical Sept. 30 deadline. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) want the Congressional Budget Office to conduct a robust analysis of the GOP proposal offered by Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Bill Cassidy (R-La.) before the bill comes to the floor for a vote. Story Continued Below “A comprehensive CBO analysis is essential before Republicans force a hasty, dangerous vote on what is an extreme and destructive repeal bill,” Pelosi and Schumer wrote to CBO Director Keith Hall in a letter first obtained by POLITICO. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Rep. John Yarmuth (D-Ky.), ranking members of the Senate and House Budget committees, also signed on. Republicans have until Sept. 30 to pass an Obamacare repeal using only party-line support under the fast-track process known as reconciliation. Senate GOP leaders are mulling bringing the Graham-Cassidy bill up for a vote next week, if they can get support within the conference. Democratic leaders say they fear Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), given the truncated timeline to consider the bill, is requesting only the bare-minimum analysis from budget scorekeepers required by reconciliation rules. Given the bill’s complexity, a full CBO analysis might not be ready until after the Sept. 30 deadline. Previous CBO estimates of other GOP Obamacare repeal efforts have yielded damaging headlines for Republicans, mainly about millions of people that would be left without insurance and significantly higher costs for older enrollees. The Graham-Cassidy bill would replace Obamacare's tax subsidies with state block grants in a significant overhaul of the law. Senate GOP leaders are trying to gin up support for the measure before the Sept. 30 deadline, even enlisting President Donald Trump to help round up the 50 votes needed for passage. Democratic leaders want to know how many people would lose insurance under the latest GOP plan, the impact on premiums for elderly enrollees and what would happen to Medicaid. “Thus far, every version of Republicans’ effort to repeal and replace the ACA has meant higher health costs, millions of hard-working Americans pushed off coverage, and key protections gutted with devastating consequences for those with pre-existing conditions,” they wrote. Right now the bill is still short of the 50 votes needed. Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) has already said he will oppose the legislation, dubbing it “Obamacare lite” and Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) is expected to oppose the plan as well. GOP leaders can only lose two Republicans and still pass the bill. And even if that did happen, the House would have to bring the bill up for a vote without changes before the end of the month.
Utne Altwire: healthcare